Why are my cloth nappies leaking?

leaky nappies troubleshooter.fw Why are my Cloth nappies leaking?

It’s a common question we get asked here at Babi Pur Towers, there are a few reasons why your nappies could be leaking so let us help you figure it out so you can continue happily on your cloth nappy journey! First of all if you are new to cloth nappies you will need to prep them well before using for the first time.  Make sure you wash your nappies a few times before putting them on your baby.  Manufacturing residues will prevent the nappies from absorbing and fabrics which contain Bamboo or Hemp may need around 6 washes or more before they become fully absorbent. Also, if you’re a newbie cloth user it is worth noting that all nappies will leak when they are full. It is  important that you change the nappies regularly or add extra boosters for extra absorbency.  On average, polyester Microfibre/Minkee cloth nappy should last around 2-3 hours before it needs changing.  An Organic Cotton or Bamboo nappy should last around 3.5 hours.   Using boosters (especially those made from Bamboo) will give you more time between nappy changes and bamboo nappies with bamboo boosters will make a super thirsty night time nappy.

Fit or absorbency?

If your nappies are leaking, it will usually be down to a problem with either the fitting of the nappy or the absorbency.  So let’s start with the fit.  One of the most common reasons for nappies to leak is to do with how it’s been fit and adjusted.   The most popular choice for cloth nappies these days are one-sized nappies which are designed to fit your baby from around 8-35lb.  These nappies need to be adjusted so that they fit your baby as she grows and changes shape.

  • Adjust the nappy to fit snuggly around your baby’s legs and waist (make sure you can fit your finger between the nappy and your baby’s skin)
  • Adjust the nappy so the legs fits first and then the waist
  • Ensure all absorbent parts of the nappy are tucked right in to avoid any wicking
  • Check that your baby’s vest or other clothing  has not tucked into the nappy – this will also cause moisture to wick out
  • Is your baby’s vest too small?  try vest extenders or a bigger vest as a ‘too small’ vest could be squeezing the moisture out of the nappy (this is more likely to happen with polyester/minkee nappies)

Newborn cloth nappy fitting

For some newborn babies using one-size cloth nappies, leaks may be an indication that the nappies may be too big at the beginning but they will work as soon as your baby has gained enough weight.  You could try a smaller nappy such as one designed for newborn babies (on average, newborn nappies fit until your baby is around 9-12 weeks)


If you are happy that the nappies are fitted correctly and you’re still experiencing leaks the problem will be to do with the absorbency.  Either there isn’t enough absorbency to hold the wee or there is something preventing the nappy from absorbing liquid.  So, to find out all you need to do is to take a good look inside your nappy after it has leaked and check if it is….

  1. Soaking wet or
  2. Mostly dry or wet with obvious dry patches
  • If the inside of the nappy is  soaking wet then it simply means that the nappy is full and needs changing more often.  If  you’ve had less than two hours from that nappy then you should consider boosting it with a bamboo or hemp booster.
  • If the nappy is  Mostly dry or wet with obvious dry patches and you are happy that it has been fitted snuggly then something could be preventing your nappies from absorbing.  Detergent residue, fabric softeners and nappy creams (especially those containing petroleum) can all clog up your nappies and stop them absorbing properly.  If this is the case, you can un-clog the nappies by giving them a strip-wash (see instructions below) make sure you don’t use any fabric softener in the future and use a fleece liner to prevent any nappy cream from getting on to the nappies.

Strip wash You will find many ways to ‘strip’ your nappies if you ask Mrs Google.  Many articles suggest using harsh chemicals,  bleach, vinegar and even dish washing tablets.   Unfortunately many of  these can do more harm than good, and would you really want to lace your nappies in harsh chemicals when they’re going to be hugging your baby’s bum?  No neither would we! Totsbots, bumGenius and Close all suggest using a little washing up liquid to un-clog the absorbent parts of your nappies. While bumGenius suggest putting a tablespoon of liquid into the washing machine drawer,  Totsbots prefer to use it in the sink to avoid a possible bubble party in your laundry room!   So, after reading our manufacturers guides and phoning for some advice we’ve come up with our very own Strip Wash Guide.. here we go –

  1. Wash your cloth nappies as normal in the washing machine
  2. Wash the nappies in the sink (up to 5 at a time) with 1 tablespoon of  washing up liquid – making sure you work the soap suds right into the material
  3. Repeat step 2 if necessary
  4. Rinse with cold water in the sink
  5. Rinse in the washing machine repeatedly until there are no bubbles
  6. Your nappies are now stripped!

Jolene Barton

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